SRAM has just released an electronic version of its third-tier mountain bike groupset GX Eagle AXS, bringing battery powered shifting to a much more affordable price point.
The relevance to drop-bar bikes may not be immediately obvious, but there are (at least) two reasons why it’s worth taking notice.
Cheaper gravel gearing
In being electronic and doing away with the compatibility constraints of differing cable-pull ratios, the GX Eagle AXS rear derailleur can be slotted into the current AXS road groupsets without a problem – meaning gravel bikes can take advantage of some monster 1x gearing range.
For context, a 42t chainring paired with the 10-50t 12-speed GX Eagle cassette will provide a larger top gear – and smaller bottom gear – than an 11-speed setup with 46/30t chainrings and an 11-34t cassette.
To be fair, this was already possible with SRAM’s second and first tier X01 and XX1 AXS rear derailleurs, but GX Eagle AXS now makes this significantly cheaper to do. The GX Eagle AXS rear mech has an RRP of £342, compared to the £670 of the XX1.
A glimpse into the future
There is a long history of tech advances being made in mountain bikes first, before then transferring onto road bikes. For good or ill, we have MTBs to thank for disc brakes, tubeless tyres, wider rims, and thru-axles – with the list going on and on.
As this is the first time a third-tier groupset has gone electronic, it doesn’t take too much of an extrapolation to infer that SRAM’s third-tier road groupset, Rival, might be next in line for the treatment.
Patents which came to light back in February of this year also strongly suggested that this move is on the cards, so we may not have to wait much longer for battery powered shifting to become a significantly more attainable proposition for road bikes.